Measles: Still "A Thing" (in the US in 2016)

Buried amongst the myriad Zika virus headlines, so hard to find it took some looking, is news of measles cases in the US...again. While not as explosive as the recent Disneyland-linked outbreak the 2 cases that have occurred this year are instructive as they are cases that should not be occurring in the US.

The cases occurred in the states of California and Texas. In Texas, an unvaccinated child who traveled internationally -- where measles is rampant -- was infected and later exposed classmates at an elementary school early in January. That this happened in Texas is not surprising as it is the 2nd least vaccinated state and this low rate of vaccination is reflected in the fact that some of the students exposed were not vaccinated. It appears, however, that herd immunity as well as luck delimited the impact of this case as no secondary cases occurred and the incubation period has since passed.

California, where the other 2016 case occurred, is the state in which a new law was enacted to increase the rates of vaccination in schools by eliminating religious and "philosophical" exemptions. California, being the epicenter of the 2014-2015 outbreak, also had a major reminder of the danger of measles that had ripple effects that led to increased vaccine confidence among the vaccine-hesitant. The details of the California case haven't been released and it will be important to determine the circumstances surrounding this case.

More measles cases will occur in the US this year and many children will remain unvaccinated kindling for this virus.